Queens Council Mem Eric Ulrich: Register Every Adult Who Rides a Bike

##http://council.nyc.gov/d32/html/members/home.shtml##Eric Ulrich##

Looks like Queens Council Member Eric Ulrich has come down with a nasty case of legislative diarrhea. The Post reports on Ulrich’s belief that streets will be safer if cyclists are required to ride with ID tags:

In a bid to rein in rogue cyclists, all adult pedal pushers in the city will be required to get an ID tag affixed to their bikes if a city councilman has his way, The Post has learned.

Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) says he is floating the proposal — which would require a small fee — because “there seems to be a double standard when it comes to enforcing the traffic laws. Bicycles are involved in accidents, unfortunately, across this city.”

He added that many cyclists don’t have identification on them if they get into an accident because “they’re in Spandex or whatnot.”

Council Member Eric Ulrich should take some time to learn about what’s actually harming the residents of his district. Less than a week ago, an 81-year-old woman was critically injured when she was struck by a tow truck driver as she was crossing the street. What is Eric Ulrich doing to prevent the next serious injury or fatality on the streets in his district, which include roads with terrible safety records, like Woodhaven Boulevard?

Fatal crashes in one portion of Eric Ulrich's district, 1995-2005. Image: ##http://www.crashstat.org##CrashStat##

The answer, apparently, is that Eric Ulrich wants to institute an expensive identification system, on top of existing ID mechanisms (because spandex-wearing cyclists can’t carry IDs), and mandate that every adult who rides a bike in New York City participate in this system. In these proposals, cyclists who don’t carry the requisite ID are usually subject to steep fines.

The net effect would probably be to greatly discourage cycling. Even if you don’t ride, that would mean more dangerous streets. As reported by Tom Vanderbilt, new research from Norman Garrick and Wesley Marshall, to be published in the Journal of Environmental Practice, has identified a link between higher rates of bicycle use and better safety rates for all road users.

Garrick and Marshall offer the following explanation:

Large numbers of bicycle users might also help shift the overall dynamics of the street environment – perhaps by lowering vehicle speeds but also by increasing driver awareness – toward a safer and more sustainable transportation system for all road users.

By the way, the idea that streets will be safer if cyclists are forced to register and carry special IDs recently cropped up in New Jersey. The state representative who proposed it had to walk back her bill one week after introducing it, following the barrage of criticism. New York livable streets advocates, can you top your counterparts in Jersey?

  • ED
  • Eric Ulrich is obviously a courageous lawmaker unafraid to put forth controversial proposals that will ultimately benefit all of society. I applaud him.

    In fact, I encourage Councilmember Ulrich to go one step further: why not license pedestrians? I’ve noticed that pedestrians often get in the way of cars, which can not only be fatal, but can be a true paperwork headache for the NYPD. Licensing would help. Isn’t it also true that pedestrians use sidewalks, and sidewalks cost the taxpayers of New York money to maintain? Yes, of course it’s true! Not to mention the revenue spent on putting out trash cans for pedestrians to toss their litter into, and maintaining all the bulbs for those walk/don’t walk signs on streetlights.

    Licensing pedestrians — after all, what are we talkign about here? just a minor fee, and perhaps a bar code stamped upon each person’s forehead — would make this city safer, and it would be a boon for our municipal coffers.

    In sum, thank you Councilmember Ulrich. God bless you.

  • Huh!

    It looks like you Streetsblog folks missed our scoop and extensive coverage on the license fiasco on our side of the Hudson in WalkBikeJersey. Fortunately local media had a field day with the proposal and it was quickly dropped. I’m not so sure you will get the same reaction in the NYC press.

    BTW, I think anyone would be a fool not to carry ID on them when they ride. I always take mine when I’m out and about on the road bike. God forbid, If I’m laying in the side of the road after a crash, one of the first things I want is for first responders to be able to ID me so they can contact next of kin and get my medical records. It really doesn’t take up that much room in your jersey pocket.

    PS – And out of state cyclists?!?! I’m in the city almost once a month with my bike. How would a proposed law handle me?

  • There’s no way that cyclists are a significant problem for pedestrians in Ulrich’s district. He’s just looking for a little face time with the media. Let’s make him regret it.

  • Moser

    So where is T.A.’s bombardment of this guy with phone calls, etc.? It’s nice for a Streetblog commenter to utter the usual “let’s make him pay” but how about some organization?

  • Danny G

    I already have a driver’s license. Before that I had a non-driver ID. Before that I carried around my passport. So ID is no problem.

    Carrying ID on you (regardless of whether you have a bike or not) is a good idea in case anything happens, and like all good moms tell their kids, ‘so you don’t get picked up as a vagrant’.

    And I’ve seen someone wearing spandex once – their shirt had these weird stretchy pockets that seem like they can hold a lot of stuff, including a wallet.

  • John

    David_K – I believe it would be a bar code on the forehead and the right hand, just to be consistent with Revelations 13:16-18.

  • robert paulson

    Isn’t this a nanny state big government measure Republicans are supposed to be against? The Right is so hypocritical it makes me sick.

  • Conrad

    On top of all the criticisms Streetsblog and everyone else have already brought up, wouldn’t truly “rogue cyclists” disregard the ID process? The only people who’d take the time and effort to do this are the people who stop at red lights and ride the correct direction to begin with. It doesn’t address people who are causing problems on bikes.

  • It’s a non-issue and, as has been mentioned, meant only to get some ink for a young City Council member.

    Someone should ask Ulrich how, in this time of budget woes, he proposes paying to set up a huge new level of bureaucracy and enforcement.

  • I just called his office at 718-738-1083 and spoke to someone about it. The problem as they describe it is that cyclists get in an accident and disappear, and there’s no way to identify them. Unlike motor vehicles, which have makes and models and license plates.

    I suggested that it was another job-killing regulation and that it didn’t make sense for a Republican to be proposing such a thing. His answer was that it wouldn’t cost that much money and that it would be entirely funded by fees, which would be about $10 a year.

    FWIW, it hasn’t been introduced as a bill yet.

  • Dumb Idea

    Well Mr. Ulrich is being silly. Amazing the backlash the city is going thru right now. Misinformed citizens. Politicians that need enlightening.

    Yeah, cyclists do need to follow more laws. And that can be enforced rather easily without any registration, besides many cyclists already have driver’s licenses and the rest must have some sort of ID.

    But drivers disobey driving law. Go to ANY intersection and you’ll see all you need in one light cycle: drivers running reds, not yielding to peds, sitting in the crosswalk, turning illegally on red, and numerous other infractions. All those folks are licensed. It doesn’t do a damn good. And you’ll never see NYPD writing any tickets.

    This is just a money grab by the councilman. And in the end it will cost more to implement than it brings in. Then you have problems all over the place: what about people who are visiting in the city, will they have to get a license to ride a bike? What about riders who happen to be passing thru?


  • Larry Littlefield

    If Mr. Mica wants to do something serious about this, how about instituting free “drivers ed” for bicycle riders in middle school kids in NYC?

    Of course the city is broke, but he could use the sales taxes collected from bicycle shops to pay for it. Or just charge drivers, since motor vehicles are what bicycle riders have to be taught to look out for.

    As for ID, I have two wallets — one with my driver’s license and most of my other stuff for use when driving and on weekends.

    And one with my work ID, metrocard, one credit card and a little cash, and an attached keychain with my bike locks (but not car ignition key) for use on workdays.

    You want ID in Manhattan on a weekday, that’s what you get. I may be a little back in the day, but you don’t carry lots of valuable stuff around with you when you don’t have to in NYC. Some desperate person sticks you up or picks your pocket for a few bucks, and you have to replace all your stuff.

  • Moser, you are hereby deputized. Use the phone number in Jonathan’s comment.

  • The CB8 meeting other other night gave me a peek inside the hater’s agenda. One particularly snide hater proposed to the CO of the precinct that ebikes be confiscated on sight if found parked on the sidewalk, since in her view they should all be classed as motor vehicles. If bikes were required to be registered, cops would just clip the locks of parked bikes without tags. Easy way to “deal with the problem.”

  • Chris

    I guess the hater can be prepared for no more free delivery too.

  • Gothamist has this statement from Ulrich:

    “Being on the road is a privilege, not an absolute right. The city is constantly bending over backwards to accommodate cyclists with the installation of bike lanes and special traffic signals – yet drivers are the only ones who receive tickets for speeding, blowing red lights, and not yielding to pedestrian traffic.”

    Gothamist does not report on whether or not Ulrich if he signed this statement, “LOL! JK!”

  • dporpentine

    It’s an old point, but it bears repeating: if any of these idiots spent just one week commuting by bicycle in New York, they’d either (a) figure out that bikes are not actually the problem or (b) stick to their old position, proving their absolutely crazy so we wouldn’t need to talk about them.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If any of these idiots spent just one week commuting by bicycle in New York.”

    That’s really it.

    Looks like in an era of scarce resources, the way to political approval is to find some minority to pick on. Hey Mica, I believe you should be held responsible for the quality of public services next fiscal year in one of the highest state and local tax (combined) jurisdictions in the country.

  • m to the i

    Well, I think the comparison to pedestrian is more in jest. Of course, pedestrians should also be aware of the rules of the road and be ticketed like drivers and bicyclists if they do not follow them. But, more seriously, if bicycles are registered then why not roller skates, roller blades, skateboards, scooters, wheelchairs, and any other wheeled vehicle you can think of that uses the streets and/or bike lanes and could possible cause injury?

    And if I register my bike so that I will enjoy the same privileges as motor vehicle drivers then they city should provide bicycle infrastructure on every street and bicycle access to all bridges and highways.

  • Marco

    Jeez – there’s already legislation on the books to post ID numbers on commercial bikes. I think the obvious resolution is to actually enforce City law 10-157.


    This seems like a much more reasonable step than rolling up the entire cycling community in a new program without any science behind it.

    On the other hand, the law also requires that people license their dogs, and there’s really not this level of high drama around that requirement by dog owners.

  • Joe R.

    This ongoing drama regarding bicycles just took a turn from the ridiculous to the totally stupid. I especially love the logic here: “The problem as they describe it is that cyclists get in an accident and disappear, and there’s no way to identify them. Unlike motor vehicles, which have makes and models and license plates.” Well, Ulrich at least justified an earlier statement I made in another thread: “This isn’t about safety here because statistically cyclists are barely a blip, right up there with falling tree limbs or lightning in the number of annual deaths. It’s about incrementalism, continually raising bar cyclists are expected to follow until the bar is so high it’s just not worth riding any more.”

    Yes, every time we cyclists might try to follow laws, they’ll continually add ever more nonsensical laws until we all start throwing in the towel one by one. Hopefully this guy will be laughed off the City Council floor like the last member who proposed this.

    Getting back to Ulrich’s illogical statement, it’s not even all that easy to read the license plates of motor vehicles leaving the scene of an accident. On a bike, anything practical will be MUCH smaller and all that much harder to read. And at night it would be unlit, making it pretty much impossible to read. Therefore, registration won’t serve the purpose Ulrich thinks it will. Moreover, if it’s a minor accident where nobody is seriously hurt, why must the police or anyone else get involved at all? I’m just guessing here, but perhaps Ulrich also wants to turn bike accidents into a field day for lawyers. Identify the cyclist, and 2 months later that minor injury on the pedestrian he hit turns into a lifelong back problem after the pedestrian talked to a lawyer.

    As for cyclists not carrying ID, that’s a red herring. If the police can’t identify someone to their satisfaction in the event of an accident, then they can hold them until they can. Second, many cyclists already carry ID. I carry it not because I’m concerned if I get stopped by the police. Rather, I have it in case I get injured or killed while riding so my family can be informed. In any case, carrying ID doesn’t make you more accountable. Many commercial riders do in fact carry ID, false ID, exactly in case they’re stopped by police so they’re NOT accountable. I remember back in 1981 when I briefly worked for a messenger service. First thing the boss told us was to get a backpack for carrying articles. Second thing he said was to get false ID at a place he knew. I can’t imagine it’s any different now.

    Bottom line-like the recent police enforcement action, this will be yet another thing to harass the mostly sane-riding majority while still letting the minority of idiots continue to cause problems.

    How about a new requirement for City Council members ( and also anyone in a leadership role in the NYPD )-namely spend at least 100 hours riding a bike on the streets of NYC. I’ll guess, as dporpentine said, they’ll quickly find bikes are not actually the major problem. And with any luck we’ll get rid of the more stupid ones while they’re fulfilling the cycling requirement ( i.e. they’ll likely become Darwin award candidates-I can’t imagine any of these people have the smarts to hack it riding a bike in NYC ).

    BTW, Streetsblog could use some emoticons. Right now I want to put in a “shakes-head” emoticon.

  • Joe R.

    “But, more seriously, if bicycles are registered then why not roller skates, roller blades, skateboards, scooters, wheelchairs, and any other wheeled vehicle you can think of that uses the streets and/or bike lanes and could possible cause injury?”

    I’ve said this myself in response to any suggestions of bike registration. Include also those SUV-sized baby strollers and electric wheelchairs in your list. The latter especially are more dangerous than bikes. They legally go on the sidewalks. Some can exceed speeds of 15 mph. Moreover, they’re usually driven by an elderly person with poor eyesight and even poorer reflexes.

    Legally, what you say might well be grounds for overturning any bike registration law in the unlikely event one passes. If the law doesn’t apply to anything with wheels capable of moving at greater than walking speed, then it’s inherently prejudicial.

    Oh, and if I have to register my bike, you can be sure I’m taking it on the highway. Same requirements as a car owner, I expect to use the same roads as well. Sorry drivers if you’re stuck behind a bunch of 15 mph cyclists on the LIE but that’s they way it’ll be. You can’t have it both ways ( i.e. the same requirements as motorists but not the same privileges ).

  • Marco

    Joe – I think there’s a couple flavors of “having it both ways” here. The cycling community can’t – on one hand – lobby for legit cycling transportation infrastructure and concurrently claim that bicycles are “no different” than wheelchairs, rollerblades and skateboards. When deciding policies about who gets space on our roads, I think you’ve got to decide – are bicycles serious transportation, or not? Are they “special?” I think they are. Viewing them as toys is not productive.

    Snowmobiles need to be registered in New York State, but you don’t see their drivers clogging up roads just to be contrary. I hardly think that it’s good policy to allow cars to speed down the greenway if they and bicycles both end up having identification plates at some point in time, as you seem to be suggesting. “Same requirements . . . .same roads”

    If you’ve got other reasons to object to registration, I think those might be stronger. I think it’s just unnecessary – how about that?

  • Great idea. Licensing motor vehicles has worked wonders in cutting eliminating vehicle mayhem. Why just last week, only one elderly rabbi was run over and killed, only one three-year-old was mowed down in his stroller by a hit-and-run driver, and only one young mom and her 9-month-old twins were seriously hurt on the sidewalk by an out-of-control livery cab. Yes, licensing bikes will make us all much safer.

  • Zach

    I called the above number and asked if the Councilman’s office was aware of any specific instance of a cyclist causing an accident and riding away in his district but was told by the gentleman I spoke to that there was no documented examples right now.

    I also asked where the ten dollar registration price came from, and stated that it was my impression the NYS DMV losses money even though auto registration costs more and they have so many more drivers.

    I was told this was an estimate and it would be worked out when they introduce the bill.

    I personally thought these questions were fairly important to know before a bill is introduced.

  • Joe R.

    “If you’ve got other reasons to object to registration, I think those might be stronger. I think it’s just unnecessary – how about that?”

    That’s a good enough reason. As for the cycling infrastructure, I personally don’t want it, don’t use it, don’t need it, at least not the way we’re doing it. If the city every wants to build completely grade-separated infrastructure where I can do most of my rides without encountering pedestrians, motorists, traffic lights, or stop signs, then that would certainly be something I would lobby heavily for, and actually use.

    Here’s my big problem with all this. I keep hearing that “we cyclists got all this nice new infrastucture, now we should reciprocate by following the laws, etc.” Nice in theory except most of the infrastructure is in Manhattan or yuppie Brooklyn neighborhoods, and much of it ( with the exception of a few greenways ) really offers no advantage over good old street riding to someone like myself. You still encounter traffic lights and pedestrians on protected and door-zone bike lanes. For someone like myself they offer little safety improvement. Basically then the onus is on me to “follow the laws” but I’m not receiving any of the benefits they claim I am. I don’t ride in Manhattan, don’t ever plan to or need to.

    As for the being taken as serious transportation, I might rub a few people the wrong way here but when I see a cyclist loafing along at 7 mph in a protected bike lane, to me they’re a joke, not serious transportation, and I’m a cyclist. When you count that they stop at lights, I can WALK faster to my destination. You want to be taken as serious transportation in NYC then act like every other form of transportation here does-namely proceed as rapidly as safely possible like I do. Act like you actually need to be somewhere instead of like you’re playing with your new toy. I’m not implying to ride recklessly. Just go as fast as you’re physically capable of whenever conditions allow ( and that’s most of the time given how empty most bike lanes are ). I see a huge amount of potential for human-powered transportation if we take it seriously. Aerodynamic velomobiles, grade-seperated infrastructure, etc. can allow bike commuting even from 20, perhaps 30, miles away. But for that to happen we need infrastructure which takes into account the special needs of human-powered transportation, particularly the heavy time/energy penalty associated with continually starting and stopping. Right now the city is doing just about nothing worthwhile on that front.

  • Steven F

    Joe R. #27 wrote:
    “As for the being taken as serious transportation, I might rub a few people the wrong way here but when I see a cyclist loafing along at 7 mph in a protected bike lane, to me they’re a joke, not serious transportation, and I’m a cyclist.”

    Joe, maybe you should ride a mile in the other guys bike shoes.
    Get out of your clip-in road shoes, put on some sneakers or office shoes, maybe toeclips or maybe just open rubber pedals, and take a ride.

    You make it quite clear in your discussions that you are a weekend warrior, a high speed recreation only rider, and that is your point of view. There’s nothing wrong with your style of riding, I used to do that myself, about 40 years ago when 20 MPH was not a strain. But even then, I used a bike for commuting, utility shopping trips and visits. I went touring with a full combat load on the bike. I was a bicycle messenger in the mid 60’s. My riding speeds ranged from quite fast, down to quite slow, like if I had a full load of groceries. And I had just a 3 speed in the 60’s, and now have different bikes for different uses.

    Go try teaching a child or an adult to ride a bike – see how fast you want to go, see what kind of road or path you want that rider on.
    Go out riding with your 5 year old – mine was riding his 16 inch bike without training wheels on the 5 Boro. I expect my grandson to be riding a pedal-less Scoot very soon. But I don’t expect these small kids to be riding out in the middle of heavy traffic at high speed.

    Bicycles are a viable alternative to owning and operating a private car for a great number of trips. Combined with transit to provide the long haul, bikes provide the first and last mile and replace the car for many, but not all car trips. Please recognize that for trips of a 1 to 5 miles, the bike is immensely faster than walking, and competitive with driving and transit. Whether the cycling is done as a 5 minute mile (12 MPH) or as a 3 minute mile (20 MPH), even at 5 miles the difference is at most 10 minutes – a 15 minute ride versus a 25 minute ride. We have all waited for the subway more than ten minutes, and I certainly have spent more than ten minutes trying to find a car parking space. Although I would usually find 7 MPH quite slow, there are evenings when I’m tired and joggers run past me on the uphill of the Brooklyn Bridge. What would be thinking of me on the way up? Would you even realize that on the way down I might be right behind you?

    Joe, you have made some good suggestions and analysis, but always from your own high speed point of view. As I said, your perspective is valid and real, but it is narrow and cannot encompass all of cycling. Your comments would be more valuable if they included a greater scope of the bicycling going on.

  • Joe R.


    Let’s correct some misconceptions. First off, I don’t wear clip-on shoes or spandex or cycling gloves or even a helmet. I ride in the same clothing I walk to the store in. The only cycling gear I have besides my bike is toe-clips, my Garmin GPS, and various cycling computers. Even the toe clips I only started using about 4 years ago. Before that, it was just plain old pedals. Second, I’m no weekend warrior. When the weather is conducive ( temperatures between 30 and 90, no rain or snow ), I ride almost every night, generally about 20 miles. I haven’t ridden since December 21 unfortunately due to first very cold, windy weather, and after the 26th, snow-covered roads.

    Third, I’m 48 years old ( no kids or wife by the way ). I have on occasion dealt with some things which have caused me to ride slower than I would have cared to go. I picked on the “7 mph riders” because many that I see aren’t some 80 year old grandma on a 3-speed, but people half my age who look to be in reasonably good shape. Sure, I realize sometimes you’re not going to ride as fast as you can for any number of reasons. That might include not wanting to arrive at work all sweaty, riding with your children, even just being tired as you say. These are all perfectly valid reasons. I even rode with a friend last April for a few miles at 9-10 mph. He hadn’t ridden in a while, it was all he felt comfortable doing. In fact, I really don’t care if someone chooses to ride fast or slow so long as they ride. Every additional cyclist out there benefits me by increasing our voice.

    Now what bothers me is when some cyclists complain they’re not taken as serious transportation. Remember, they’re making this complaint, NOT me. So I offer up one possible reason for this, admittedly based on my point of view, and you castigate me for it. You have to look at it from the point-of-view of the average non-cyclist on the street. They see cars whizzing by, the expresses on the subway going 45-50 mph, commuter trains going 80, Amtrak going 125. And then they see someone rolling by on a bike at a speed no faster than they can jog. In their mind they might ask, how can this be useful or serious transportation when I can almost walk faster? Why should we give up street space for this?

    Sure, even though I have a different perspective than you, I might offer up the same things you say as reasons-namely that cycling, even at low speeds, is a very valid and often reasonably fast mode of transport over distances of a couple of miles. It provides a great way to connect with faster modes of transit when longer distances are covered. Even if actual speed of travel is slower than the subway, overall average speed might be just as fast since you don’t factor waiting time into the equation. I can certainly make a good case for the utility of 12 mph cycling, but might have a harder time with 7 mph cycling. Don’t forget in this urban environment your average speed isn’t anywhere near your cruising speed. Your 12 mph cyclist might only average 8 or 9 mph ( still much better than walking ), the 7 mph one might barely average more than a fast walk. I personally only average mid 15s to mid 16s despite riding late nights, and generally cruising at anywhere from 18 to 23 mph. Since you mentioned descending the Brooklyn Bridge, I go much faster on downhills, a few times over 50 mph, once all the way to 65 mph ( back when I was in college riding in NJ ). If you can hold my wheel descending the Brooklyn Bridge, then great, but I won’t think less of you if you can’t. Same if I pass you on the way up. I’m just glad to see another person out enjoying riding however they feel comfortable doing it. BTW, this is all hypothetical as I never crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. I only rode into Manhattan once, over the Queensboro in the early 1980s ( 61 mph on the descent coming back into Queens! ). Getting back on the main topic here, a layperson will seriously start to question the utility of cycling over walking once average speeds drop to that of a fast walk. That was really my main point here.

    Now moving on to infrastructure. Yes, I said much of the current bike infrastructure is near useless to me personally but that doesn’t mean I don’t support building it. I do. I recognize its utility to a broad range of cyclists. OK, so we’re making cycling useful to a large group of people for trips of 1 to perhaps 4 or 5 miles. Great, but unless we take the next step it ends there. Cycling for anything other than recreation is still about as common in most of the outer boroughs as it is in New Jersey or Long Island. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the potential to replace the greatest number of car trips with bike trips in the outer boroughs. However, while doing this we need to recognize that these aren’t 2 mile car trips we’re replacing, but frequently 8 or 10 or even 15 mile trips. The kind of cycling I see in Manhattan bike lanes just isn’t going to work over those distances. That doesn’t however mean those trips aren’t viable by bike. They are given the right infrastructure. Ironically, it’s the kind of average speeds which I, a slightly overweight, not necessary in the best shape, 48-year can maintain which brought me to this conclusion. 15 or 16 mph is REALLY useful over those kinds of distances. It handily beats subway most of the time, car most of the time, bus all of the time. And with proper infrastructure where I don’t need to slow or stop for lights, I’m sure I could do even better, average around 18 or 19 mph ( that’s about what I do once I get onto main arterials and rarely hit lights ). OK, so you might say but not everyone can ride 22 mph, or wants to if it means they arrive at work soaked. Fine, that’s where equipment comes in. Replace that mountain bike or hybrid or even racing bike with an aerodynamic velomobile. Now that same less fit rider can drop me on my Raleigh like I’m standing still without breaking a sweat. And I would be able to travel at 45 mph easily. If we can make human-powered transportation this useful, it will be impossible to kill. When human-powered transport matches the speeds cars do on highways, the naysayers just won’t be able to knock it for its lack of utility any more.

    I see the huge potential of human-powered transportation to be way more than it can be. And I see a lot that we’re doing now which is working directly against that potential unfortunately. I don’t want to read in a history book in 20 years that the early 2010s was when bicycles nearly became mainstream transit, but the initiatives died because a vocal minority opposed it. This happened once before about a century ago. Remember, if not for the auto, cycling might well have become THE way to get around in cities. If we fail this time, we might well have to wait another century.

    Finally, a big thanks to anyone who has read this long post through!

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ll say it again, if Mica wanted to do something useful he wouldn’t start by licensing adult riders, but by providing training and certificates to all middle schoolers. Recreate for bicycles the regulatory and training infrastructure provided drivers for motor vehicles, but since motor vehicles are the reason bicycles need it, charge motor vehicles for its cost.

    Then, after 50 years, everyone who grew up in NYC would have the training and the certificate.

    What he wants to do it seems is collect money from “them” and drive them off the streets. The permit would be meaningless, because no training would come with it. It is just a fraud.

  • Larry Littlefield

    One more thing: I know how to ride a bicycle on the street, because I had been driving motor vehicles for 30 years when I started doing it regularly. Many in the next generation, thanks to those who have been running things, will not be able to afford motor vehicles.

  • The Councilmember’s concern for our being IDed is a thin edge of the wedge towards licensing us, and then de-licensing any bikers he feels are violating absurd and unenforceable laws. The bike lanes have been turned into double-parking lanes.Pedestrians pretend they are sidewalk extensions. If car drivers are any more cautious towards bikers, it’s only because there are now so many of us, they are forced to recognize we exist.Having bikes on the streets makes them SAFER, not more dangerous, as it slows traffic and makes the real killers – cars – notice what’s around them for a change. Which is more dangerous: a side-street where cars go 10mph, with a bike lane, or the West Side Highway where they go 50? These are exaggerated extremes, but they prove the point: share a Street, Save a Life!

  • For what it’s worth, the Daily News editorial page came out against bike licensing today.

  • Jess

    At least he doesn’t always wear a bowtie

  • Mrbadexample

    This was apparently ‘desperate Repub city councilmen from Queens issuing press releases’ month–before this, it was the David Halloran ‘bombshell’ about city workers slacking off during the snow storm (a story that couldn’t be fact-checked).

    Is the city going to require something for people to be licensed–like proof of insurance? will cyclists have to pass a written test?

    Mr. Ulrich needs to heed Bloomberg’s advice and use his passport. European cities are full of cyclists, but to my knowledge there is no requirement for licensing or ID.

  • Brent

    In the Los Angeles area, where I live, bicycle licensing has largely been abandoned, with Santa Monica most recently terminating it yesterday. The City of Los Angeles suspended its law last year. The laws have been seen to have several problems:

    1) They were expensive to implement for the revenues derived, and (in some cases) city employees didn’t even know where to direct cyclists to buy licenses.

    2) They applied only to residents of the municipality, and could not be enforced against riders from elsewhere, limiting their effectiveness;

    3) The police sometimes used them selectively to harass or intimidate cyclists;

    4) Their stated purpose of helping theft recovery showed few successes.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if any bike registration law in NYC would eventually encounter similar problems.

  • Someone from Vancouver, BC is coming to his defence (and praise):

    Last time I checked, any city in Canada or the USA that has tried a license has lost a considerable amount of money.

  • jimmy

    Instead io the bike riders having ID tags,wouldn’t it be more visible if they wore a big star on thier sweater?

  • jimmy

    Dumb Idea ! You can’t suck money fom something that isn’t there. There simply aren’t enough American adults riding bikes anymore, period ! Most of us are too overweight,to do the bike thing. I wonder if Mr. Ulrich can figure out a way to register “responsible” pornogrophy viewers

  • I think that this is an idea to be explored and perhaps expanded to include some sort of insurance.  A good friend of mine was struck by a cyclist while walking.  The cyclist went through a red light and caused her to sustain a sever head injury, broken bone.  Because there is no requirement for cyclists have insurance or license, the officer responding to the accident said he could not write an accident report.  The lack of “official” documentation of the incident made it difficult to win any sort of law suit to recover the medical expenses and lost wages she incurred after the accident. And, even if she would have won the case, the cyclist had no assets or ability to pay for any of the medical bills for the injuries he caused. There are plenty of bicycle riders who obey the rules, but there are just as many who do not.  A bicycle going at a decent speed can cause significant injury to a pedestrian.


Michael DenDekker Explains His Inexplicable Bike License Bill

Remember last month when Council Member Eric Ulrich came out with the idea of creating a complicated new bureaucracy to register and identify New Yorkers who ride bikes, a proposal that would build an expensive and redundant personal identification system on top of our existing ID systems, opening the door to increased harassment of cyclists […]

Eric Ulrich Flip-Flops on Woodhaven Boulevard Redesign

After coming out strong for Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard, City Council Member Eric Ulrich has done a 180. “The plan that they proposed, it stinks,” Ulrich told the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, according to the Queens Chronicle. “I don’t think it’s good. I think we have to go back to the drawing board.” The Woodhaven […]

Eric Ulrich’s Cure for BQE Potholes: Stop Building Public Plazas

Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca convened a hearing this afternoon on NYC DOT’s plaza program, a sequel of sorts to the bike policy hearing where opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane got a big media moment and several council members laid out their windshield perspective on bike lanes for all to see. Today, […]

A Video Message About Bike Licensing, From New Jersey

Via Andy B at WalkBikeJersey, here’s how one Newark newspaperman responded to a recent proposal to mandate bicycle registration in his state. (Congrats on breaking the story, WalkBikeJersey.) NYC’s own Eric Ulrich is contemplating a similar bill, though not one that would apply to minors. Somehow I doubt any of our local print outfits will […]